Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil-DCM) has said that it is possible to win the Giro d’Italia without doping. In 2010, Riccò and his then Ceramica Flaminia team were not invited to the Giro but the Italian is set to make his return to the race in May. Last season was his first back in the peloton after testing positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.
“The Giro is my primary objective,” Riccò told dhnet.be. “Of course I want to win it, but a place on the podium would already be a good result. It’s hard, very, very hard, but we say that every time. In Italy there are an awful lot of difficult climbs and they put more in every time, but it’s the riders who make the race.
“And yes, winning the Giro without doping is possible. To do that, you have to work and do your job properly.”
This winter, Riccò began his Giro preparation by collaborating with the late Aldo Sassi and his team at the Mapei Centre in Castellanza. In spite of Sassi’s untimely death in December, Riccò is continuing to avail of the centre’s facilities and expertise.
“Unfortunately, Aldo is dead, but his spirit lives on at the Mapei Centre,” Riccò explained. “I’m now working with people who have collaborated with him for the past fifteen years and who use his methods.”
Riccò acknowledged that his collaboration with Sassi was born partially of a desire to boost his credibility but he insisted that the opportunity to follow a structured training programme was his primary motivation for working at the facility.
“Working with Sassi did a lot of good for my image, it’s true, but above all I want to get results from it,” Riccò said. “Before that, I trained according to feel, whereas now I have a precise programme, plans and a method of preparation. They analyse and correct what I do. I’m busy writing a new chapter of my career.”
Riccò will kick off his 2011 campaign at the GP La Marseillaise and will follow a busy spring schedule as he builds towards the Giro.
“I’ll ride the Tour of the Mediterranean and then the Algarve, before Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Catalonia, Amstel and the two Ardennes classics,” Riccò said.
As Riccò’s Vacansoleil-DCM squad has secured a ProTeam licence for 2011, a return to the Tour de France for the first time since his exclusion three years ago is a possibility, although he said that for now his attentions were fixed firmly on Italy in May. “We’ll see how things are after the Giro,” Riccò explained.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.